What do you think of when you hear “tree hugger”? Are you laughing or scowling right now?
I’m laughing at the picture floating around my head.
Whatever image is floating around your imagination, unfortunately most times this term is used, there’s a bit of derision too.
Seriously. Who’d ever want to be known as a tree hugger?
But one day my curiosity about this term caused a little digging around the ‘Net. Turns out it comes from a legend of ancient India.
There was a village in India where the people believed that animals and trees were sacred. The villagers only used the parts of a tree they needed, but no tree was ever cut down. Thus, the forest around their village grew thick and lush. Within this forest were special Khejri trees—a thorny evergreen, with conical thorns and slender branches. These special trees withstood the harshest elements and offered dense shade.
One day, a king wanted to build a new palace. The best trees were the Khejri trees from this small village in India. The king sent his soldiers to cut down the villagers’ forest so he could build his palace out of this exceptional lumber. When the villagers heard trees falling, they quickly ran to every tree in the forest where man, woman, and child wrapped their arms around the trees. The soldiers ordered the villagers to step aside but they refused, choosing instead to be cut down with their beloved trees.
As the legend goes, while the villagers held onto the trees, defying the king’s command, a fierce storm suddenly blew in from the desert, knocking the soldiers left and right. Still the villagers held on to the trees. When the storm finally blew away, homes were destroyed and fields were decimated. Yet, the trees stood strong.
The villagers refused to allow their sacred forest to be turned into a desert. They believed their life and sustainability was bound up in these trees. The trees withstood the storm and the king’s attempt to annihilate them.
Did you know that the Bible tells us to hug a tree too?
Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly. Proverbs 3:18 NLT
A tree named Wisdom.
What is wisdom?
Webster’s New World College Dictionary describes wisdom as “the quality of being wise; power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc.”
Does this mean that a person who studies a lot is wise?
Not necessarily. Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. If we look back at the definition, wisdom is the power to act based on knowledge, experience, and understanding.
It’s putting what you know into action.
Here’s an example:
All day long, Ellie ran to her mom, asking the same question, “What’s the name of the little girl who’s coming tonight?”
“Her name is Christina,” Jill replied.
By the 27th time, Jill was getting exasperated. Why couldn’t Ellie remember the girl’s name? Usually she remembered names easily, so why was this so hard for her?
About 15 minutes before her husband was due home, Jill heard the question again, “Mommy, what’s that girl’s name who’s coming tonight?” Jill gritted her teeth and said, “Christina!”
Ellie bounded off once again. Jill fumed.
At dinner that night, Ellie asked the girl’s name again. Jill’s husband said, “Ellie, what’s your oldest cousin’s name?” Ellie replied, “Chris.”
“And what’s your babysitter’s name?”
“The girl who is coming soon is Christina, just like your cousin’s and babysitter’s names.”
“Oh,” Ellie squealed, “Christina! That’s easy.”
Jill stared at her husband and daughter in disbelief.
Understanding how their daughter’s mind worked, her husband had given Ellie a simple formula to remember the name.
Wisdom = putting what you know into action.
The Bible tells us in many passages to pursue wisdom. In this passage, we’re told wisdom is a tree of life and to hold tightly to it.
If you and I are reading and studying our Bibles routinely, if we apply what we learn from this study to our daily lives, I guess that means we are exceptional tree huggers.
Now that’s a tree I’m willing to hug for life. How about you? Leave a comment below.
Live your legacy today,
Kirsten D. Samuel
Aftershock Recovery Coach
8-week Program, Custom-paced Coaching, Remote or In-person Sessions